Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Jury Reaches Guilty Verdict Against Out-Of-Control Landlord Over Endangering Efforts To Illegally Drive Rent-Regulated Tenants Out Of Their Homes By Cutting Off Heat & Hot Water, Exposing Them To Lead-Contaminated Dust, Friable Asbestos While Engaging In Unsafe Construction Practices

From the Office of the New York State Attorney General:
  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the guilty verdict of Crown Heights landlord Daniel Melamed, and the corporation that he controlled, on three counts of Unlawful Eviction of rent stabilized tenants. Melamed will be sentenced on September 13, 2017; he could face up to one year in jail.

    The guilty verdict follows a months-long investigation into Melamed’s ownership and management of an apartment building at 1578 Union Street, where the Attorney General found evidence that Melamed used construction and deprivation of services in an attempt to get rent stabilized tenants to give up their apartments. Melamed’s June 2015 arrest was the first resulting from the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, a collaboration between State and City agencies announced by Attorney General Schneiderman, Mayor de Blasio, and Governor Cuomo in February 2015.

    “We won’t hesitate to bring the full force of the law against anyone who harasses, intimidates, and jeopardizes the health and safety of tenants,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Daniel Melamed intentionally endangered rent-stabilized tenants in order to push them out – and line his own pockets. Today’s guilty verdict marks another win for our Tenant Harassment Task Force and the strong partnership we’ve created between the state and the city to hold bad landlords accountable.”
    Prosecutors from the A.G.’s office proved that Melamed presided over a disturbing pattern of dangerous and unlawful construction that jeopardized the health and safety of building tenants with the intent of evicting the remaining rent stabilized tenants. The evidence presented at trial showed that Melamed illegally shut off heat to rent regulated tenants, even when temperatures dropped below freezing; repeatedly exposed tenants to lead dust that exceeded acceptable levels by as much as eighty-eight times the permissible threshold; and removed the boiler in the middle of winter from the building without permission from any City or State agencies.

    As proven at trial, almost immediately after buying the building, Melamed embarked on a campaign to rid it of rent stabilized tenants by cutting essential services such as heat, performing illegal construction and failing to contain and clean toxic lead dust. The three remaining tenants testified against their landlord and detailed how they adapted to life under his ownership, including using ovens to heat their apartments, bathing using buckets, and covering their noses and mouths to protect themselves against the lead dust. This trial exposed the lengths that Melamed went to force these tenants to leave their rent stabilized apartments.

    After taking part in a joint task force inspection of 1578 Union Street in Brooklyn and observing the extremely troubling conditions, such as a lack of heat and hot water, exposed friable asbestos in the basement, and a thick layer of dust that was present throughout the building, the TPU conducted tenant interviews and reviewed various records and then formally made a criminal referral to the Attorney General.
Source: Attorney General Schneiderman Announces Guilty Verdict For Brooklyn Landlord Who Harassed Rent Regulated Tenants (Daniel Melamed Found Guilty On Three Counts Of Unlawful Eviction; Could Face Up To One Year In Jail; The Case Marks A Victory For The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, An Unprecedented Collaboration Between City And State Agencies).

Go here for the Spanish version of the press release. epa environmental protection agency lead contamination